Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup Build Report 4: Painting the Pup

The Pup – and I have a feeling any Wingnut Wings kit, really – isn’t the kind of model that you slap together and churn out in a few weeks. The intricacy of the build, the rigging, and the need to paint so many subassemblies to their final point before assembling the entire aircraft pretty much makes the speedy approach impossible.

But, at long last, it’s time to paint the biplane!

Modified Three-Layer Blend

I’m a big fan of what I call the “three-layer blend” approach to painting aircraft. It yields many of the same benefits as pre-shading, but I’ve found that, at least for me, it’s a far more controllable effect.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s the gist of the three-layer blend.

  • Lay down the base coat.
  • Lay down a lightened coat of the base color (25-50% white or light tan mixed in).
  • Blend the two together with a heavily-thinned coat of the base color (75% thinner).

Now…on metal-skinned aircraft, the lightened coat operates exactly the opposite of pre-shading. You spray in the center of the panels and taper off around the edges.

For the Pup, I decided to flip it around, and use the lightened coats on the ribbing.

Base Coats

First, I sprayed the base coats. For the undersides, this was Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan.

For the upper surfaces, well, I learned a lesson, and sprayed the lightening coat first. This was Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab, XF-55 Deck Tan, and XF-2 Flat White in a 2:1:1 ratio.


That lesson? Here’s where I learned it. Isolating the ribbing via masking is a PAIN!

Here’s the underside with the lightened ribbing.


For the underside, I wanted to give a bit more depth than just straight Deck Tan to represent somewhat dirtied-up clear doped linen, so I masked off the ribs, mixed some Khaki into my Deck Tan, and sprayed that into the wing “valleys”.

On the upper surfaces, I masked off the ribs and sprayed straight XF-62 Olive Drab.


At this point, the upper and lower surfaces both look stripey and terrible, but it’s all part of the plan. Hopefully.

Next up – blending the general wing fabric and the lightened rib stations together so the contrast is far more subtle. For both of these, I used the base color (XF-55 Deck Tan down below, and XF-62 Olive Drab up top) at a ratio of 25% paint, 75% thinner.

The technique for this blending is to overspray in light coats, gradually building up until the desired effect is achieved. That’s the reason for using such thinned paint…it makes it easy to dial things in without accidentally wiping out the lighter or darker shades with one overzealous pass.

Here’s where things came out.

Now that the primary paint is on, it’s only a short skip and a hop to decals and weathering. But there’s still a ways to go on this Pup.

Thanks for following, and keep an eye out for future updates!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy Lundergaard says:

    doogs, really enjoying your build reports. i picked up the WNW Roland D.VIa. Coming from a WWII wingy background (my fave is the P-47 too) i am excited and scared to death i’ll mess up a rather spendy kit! the rigging has me particularly worried so look forward to your build report on that. keep up the great work and equally great blogging.

  2. mark says:

    Hey Doog

    I did a Curtiss jenny and a DH-2 back during the winter using the pre-shade method….I first shot the underside with a flat sea gray….applied chart-pak tape over the ribs….the sprayed my “Linen” colour…..very satisfied with the effect………..

    Great build………love these old war-birds..

  3. mark says:

    oh yes,…forgot to say what I was going to say….LOL!

    Using these methods even on old issue and or cheap kits brings out a new level of satifaction. The “Jenny” was a 10$ Lindberg kit,. but with rigging,.. scratch….and effective painting , can turn out a more “professional” level of builds.

    Thanx Doog! we appreciate your time and the explanations you give detailing your builds

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